Book review: The War on Guns, by John Lott

I’ve just finished reading one of the best books on gun control to come out in some time and wanted to share some of the experience with you. The timely and superbly written tome by John R. Lott Jr. is titled, “The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies.”

You may remember John Lott from our previous coverage here of both gun control and crime in the United States. Some of his previous work included an analysis of the different ways that economists and criminologists view gun ownership, which he revisits in this book. Long before that, John had done some groundbreaking research on crime statistics in America, much of which I drew on when I compiled, The truth about gun deaths: Numbers and actual solutions.

This is a truly remarkable book which should be on everyone’s must read list. In his usual fashion, John goes past the usual talking points which infest cable television debates and takes on some of the most sacred cows of the gun control lobby, tossing their filleted remains straight onto the grill. One of these is the ongoing debate about expanded background checks and gun registration requirements. In chapter 4, Lott shoots straight past the “conventional wisdom” on the subject with the provocative title, Why licenses, regulations and background checks don’t help.

John combines his personal experience in testifying before government committees with exhaustive research into crime statistics in various states as well as Canada (considered the Holy Grail of gun control for Second Amendment opponents). In Hawaii, for one example, the Honolulu Police Chief testified before the state senate that there wasn’t a single homicide he could identify where chasing down the registration of a weapon used in a homicide had helped solve the case. In Canada, over a six year period, there were only five dozen or so cases where a gun used in a murder had a valid registration which was used in the investigation, and even then the data provided was, at best, tangential in solving the crime. (Not surprising since the rare cases where a crime is committed with a legally purchased and registered firearm frequently take place in the home and the suspect still has the weapon and/or is severely wounded or dead when the cops get to them.)

In a later chapter, Lott revisits Hillary Clinton’s famous quotes about how she admires the gun “buyback” program in Australia. He then reveals some things you’ll never hear on CNN about the Land Down Under. The buyback/purge of 96 and 97 didn’t actually wipe out gun ownership for the Aussies. The total number of guns dropped from 3.2 million to 2.2 million. Even less well known is the fact that gun ownership almost immediately began to rise again and by 2010 it was back to 1996 levels. He also provides graphs of crime statistics from before and after the buyback which blows apart the commonly repeated tropes you hear on cable news and in Democratic stump speeches.

There’s plenty more and much of it will be eye opening even to avid consumers of Second Amendment news. There are tools aplenty in here for those fighting the good fight on gun rights heading into this election, so if you don’t have a copy of The War On Guns yet, you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you order one today. I seriously can’t recommend this book strongly enough.